Officials starting to crack down on diving


lapierre.jpgWe can debate night and day about which sport is the toughest and therefore worthy of induction into the Mountain Dew Extreme Hall of Fame, but few would doubt that hockey is in the conversation. Still, there are times when hockey shows some of its ugliest soccer-inspired roots: precisely when a player embellishes a penalty and “dives” to the ice.

It’s one of those moments when a player transforms from “inspiring rags-to-riches person” to an unpublishable word or three. Thankfully, the league is placing greater influence on cracking down on the shameful tactic. Darren Dreger points out the recent increase in diving penalties.

There were no diving penalties called in the first 44 postseason games, yet in the last 10 games, five have been assessed.

Terry Gregson, the NHL’s director of officiating says the league is cracking down. Gregson says embellishment was evident in the first round.

In Game 6 of the Washington Capitals-Montreal Canadiens quarterfinal series, three diving penalties were assessed, including two on Canadiens forward Maxim Lapierre.

Detroit’s Darren Helm was also called for diving in Game 7 versus the Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh’s Ruslan Fedotenko was tagged in the semi-final opener against Montreal.

The two diving calls Lapierre received actually inspired me to bring up the subject for last week’s Pucktales comic. On some sick level, Oscar-worthy acting can be a boon to a team (just look at the impact Dustin Brown’s swan dives can have on the Los Angeles Kings’ success, for instance). Consider me pleased to hear that the league is looking to reduce the shameful act.

Now, if referees would develop the courage to regularly call diving without throwing the other team in the box with a reciprocal penalty, then they would be on to something.

Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning

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Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

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Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

Peter Chiarelli

It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

You can see and hear his full comments below:

If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.

Slump busters: Simmonds, Couturier end long scoring droughts in win over Rangers


It’s been a good few days to be a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, as their team delivered not once, but twice during Thanksgiving weekend.

The Flyers picked up a 3-2 OT win over the Predators on Friday before shutting out the New York Rangers, 3-0, on Saturday.

It was a good afternoon for three players in particular.

Both Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier ended long scoring slumps.

Simmonds’ two goals were his first in seven games, while Couturier scored for the first time in his last 13 contests.

Goaltender Steve Mason also had a solid outing against the Rangers.

The 27-year-old turned aside all 24 shots he faced including this great save on Dominic Moore:

The Flyers lost defenseman Nick Schultz to an upper-body injury in the first period after he took a big hit from Dylan McIlrath.

Luke Schenn defended his fallen teammate by dropping the gloves with McIlrath, which didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

The Rangers are now on a season-high three-game losing streak. Their lack of effort has to be concerning for their head coach Alain Vigneault.

The Flyers outshot the Rangers 30-14 over the final 40 minutes.